Minnesota Wild: Ryan Strome Trade Better Option Than a PTO

As the Wild look to make decisions on their opening day forward lineup a trade for the Islanders Ryan Strome could offer a great opportunity.  The former 5th overall pick could be brought in now or later for a reasonable price to fill a starting spot or simply fill out the depth chart.

The offseason has been a challenge for the Minnesota Wild living in a relatively constraining salary cap environment.  But still they were pretty successful being able to sign Eric Staal and Chris Stewart on the first day of free-agency as well as wrap up RFAs Jason Zucker and Matt Dumba later in the summer.  And moreover they still have a bit left in cap space to the tune of $2.17 million.  So it seems that the Wild had a successful offseason, right?  Well one small need that has been largely ignored might come back to bite them.

The fact that the Minnesota roster only has 10 NHL forwards currently seems to be a problem.  Sure there’s a desire to keep a path open for some of the younger players to make the team, but as we know that could fail and leave the Wild in a spot.  Fail or no fail it still seems that the Wild are in need to bring in one more center for depth.  It’ll be hard not to have NHL ready talent on hand in case of injury or poor performance.

To bring that center in the free-agent market is an option.  However, the current free-agent market seems very thin on viable talented forwards with upside.  Sure the Wild could use a PTO, but at some point they might have to give up the dreaming and scheming and acquire a solid player.  That might have to come via the trade.  Right now there’s teams that have players who have quality RFA forwards that have yet to be signed and as the days continue to tick off their clubs may be more and more inclined to deal them.

Jan 17, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders center Ryan Strome (18) celebrates his goal with teammates during the third period against the Vancouver Canucks at Barclays Center. Vancouver Canucks won 2-1 in shootout. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

One RFA center that seems like he could be available and for a decent price is Ryan Strome of the New York Islanders.  The 22-year old Strome is a former 5th overall pick of the Isles has fallen on a down year last season that saw him with reduced playing time and even a few demotions to the AHL.  Still looking at the season before last he was a 50-point scorer with 17 goals and outstanding two-way play, showing that he has had success at the NHL level and at such a young age you’ve got to think that he might be able to do that again.

This is a situation that Bruce Boudreau can work with.  If the young Strome has talent Boudreau is a coach who can get it out of him.  The motivation part can be fixed and that’s where Boudreau would focus.  Not to mention the Wild would offer Strome some fresh scenery that could spark his scoring as well.

Mar 9, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New York Islanders forward Ryan Strome (18) shoots the puck prior to the game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

The nice part about this deal is that it could be done for a low-cost to the Wild.  The Islanders are very close to the Wild in salary cap space with $2.4 million, and therefore they would be looking for a small manageable return for Strome.  Draft picks might be in the deal, but the Wild could pay that bill with almost all of their picks for the foreseeable future intact except for a second rounder next season.  If the Isles want a player in return they can’t demand too much as their cap space limits them to only a few players they can choose from.

Money wise for the Wild it would make more sense if they could move a player for Strome.  The freed up cap space would go a long way to signing him.  Strome’s salary demands are more than likely somewhere close to a $1 million cap hit, which the Wild can afford now.   But with a player being dealt they will only have to shave potentially $0.4 to $0.6 million off their current cap space still leaving them in a great position around $1.5 to $1.7 million in cap space.  That’s still a good pad for contingencies that Chuck Fletcher could live with.

Time will be the biggest factor if this deal could be done.  For the Wild it’s all about how training camp plays out, and that means that Strome wouldn’t need to be brought in till the end.  For the Islanders and GM Garth Snow they will be more willing to unload Strome as the season draws nearer to make sure to get something viable to start the season.  That might motivate them more to move him later rather than now.

So bottom line a trade for Strome could offer the Wild a great insurance policy if the young guns don’t do well enough in camp.  With the free-agent market not offering any more really great PTO options, this trade makes more sense.  Strome has more upside than many of the PTOs the Wild could ever bring in, and he could be had at about the same price or just slightly higher.  It makes sense so why not lay the groundwork now to have the insurance later?